Are you tired of spending a fortune on airfare? Good news! Travel hacking could be the solution to all your travel woes. It’s an exciting method to convert welcome bonuses and other incentives into airline miles which you can use to obtain discounted or complimentary flights for your desired destinations. With a little imagination and a little bit of insider information, you’ll be jet-setting for free in no time.
The Basics of Travel Hacking
Travel hacking is about trading credit card sign-up bonuses and incentives for airline miles. The miles can be used to buy discount or no-cost flights. Some credit cards also permit you to use miles to pay for hotel stays or rental car discounts.
How Does it Work?
The secret to successful hacking your travel plans is to take advantage of credit card sign-up bonuses and building out frequent flyer miles for a specific group of airlines. When you are ready to book a flight take a look at the price. If the price is less than $300, it’s usually better to pay in cash and save your miles for a more expensive flight. When the flights start getting over $500, you’ll need to look into your frequent flyer accounts to see which airline can give you the best deal. All it boils down to is the number of miles or points in your travel account for each airline.
Begin by Getting Started with Travel Hacking
Ready to learn the secrets to travel hacking? The first step is opening an account with a sign-up bonus. There are plenty of great credit cards that provide various advantages and features. It is all dependent on the airline, your spending habits, and the features that are most important to you.
Top Credit Card Picks
Here are some credit cards that are excellent to use for hacking travel:
- Chase Sapphire Reserve
- Chase United Explorer
- JetBlue Mastercard
- Capital One Venture X
Once you’ve been approved for a credit card you’ll have to meet the minimum spend limit in order to get the bonus. Each card has its own rules, so be sure to look up the details. Then it’s all about building up miles and then using them to book your dream trip!
Are you ready to set sail with your ideas?
Now that you’ve built up your points balance, you’re ready to redeem them for some delicious vacation! Different credit card companies have different methods of redeeming your rewards, here are some examples from a few of the companies I’ve worked with:
Escape with Chase Ultimate Rewards
If you’re a holder of an Chase credit card, then you are able to redeem your points via the Ultimate Rewards portal. In the portal, you’ll get access to virtually every airline. You can combine points and cash to book your next trip. You can even book completely on points if you have enough balance! Sometimes even if you do not have enough points to cover the full cost, you still can buy flights with Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and pay the balance cash using every credit card.
Are you tired of paying full price for flights? Did you not know that when you book directly through United, you have the option of paying with either points or dollars? But, be careful, if you don’t have enough points, you cannot combine points and dollars for flights. Don’t worry, though, if you’re a few points away, United also offers the option to purchase additional miles.
Looking for a flight within the United States? Take a look at JetBlue! JetBlue provides an enjoyable and comfortable flight experience with extra space and complimentary snacks. Plus, their booking process is similar to that of United Airlines which allows customers to book using either JetBlue points or dollars, however, not both. But, JetBlue has a unique feature that lets you pool your points together with your relatives to earn points twice as fast. Just make sure you can establish that you’re a real family member prior to trying to hack into the system.
Make sure you spend that minimum amount
If you’re like me and my travel buddy Becca I’m sure you’re pretty economical and it’s difficult to think of spending thousands of dollars to reach the minimum spend for credit card bonuses. However, don’t be worried as we’ve done it and are here to share our tips and tricks.
Pay your rent (if you can)
This is an important one! If you’re able pay your rent with a credit card, do it! Make sure you pay a fee, usually about 3 percent. It could be worthwhile in the long run in the event that the bonus is substantial enough.
Pay for a medical bill
Another way to reach the required spending is to cover an medical bill. If you don’t have any medical bills in the near future then ask your relatives if you could pay them for theirs, and they can reimburse you.
Repay a loan
If you’re a borrower you owe, think about making payments on them with the credit card you have. Be sure to pay the credit card balance completely so that you don’t accumulate more debt.
Ask your family members for help
Ask your family members to see if they have any large expenses coming up which you could help pay for. Just make sure you trust the person and they understand why you’re doing this.
If you’re celebrating the holidays, consider buying all of your gifts with the credit card you have. In this way, you’ll reach the minimum spending requirement and also be ready for giving gifts. Just make sure you’re not spending more than you already contemplating to.
There are a lot of ways to make the most out of your travel credit card and accumulate miles or points that you can be used towards the cost of flights or other expenses related to travel. Here are a few more ways to maximize your rewards
Book travel expenses with your credit card
When you’re planning your next vacation, make use of you travel credit card to book your hotel, flight or rental car, as well as other travel costs. In addition, you’ll achieve the minimum amount of spending required for your credit card bonus, but you’ll also earn points or miles to cover the costs.
Make use of your credit card to pay to pay for your everyday costs
Another way to meet the minimum amount of spending to earn rewards is by utilising your credit cards to pay every day costs. This could include items like groceries, gas or even your phone bill. Make sure you pay the balance off in full each month so you don’t accrue interest charges.
Make the most of bonus categories
Many travel credit cards offer miles or points in exchange on certain kinds of purchases, such as eating out or travelling. Check out the rewards program of your credit card and make use of the bonus categories that are in line with your spending habits.
Think about a balance transfer
If you are currently in outstanding debt due to a high-interest credit card, think about transferring the balance to a travel credit card with a 0% introductory APR for balance transfers. This will enable you to pay off the debt without accruing interest. It will also assist you in reaching the minimum spending requirement for the credit card’s bonus.
Use your points or miles prudently
Once you’ve accumulated a substantial amount of points or miles Make sure to utilize the points or miles wisely. Review the rewards program for your credit card and then compare the benefits of different redemption options. For example using points to book a ticket directly with the airline might offer better return than using them for an gift card.
Another tip is to use a rewards card that allows you to transfer rewards to different loyalty program. This will let you enjoy a greater variety of choices and more freedom when it comes to making use of your rewards. For instance, you might be eligible to transfer your reward to an airline’s frequent flyer program or a Hotel rewards programme. This can give the benefit of a greater range of flights, hotels and other travel benefits which are not offered through the rewards program of your credit card.
Also, discover if your credit card offers any perks that can save you money on travel-related costs. Some cards offer travel insurance as well as rental car insurance baggage protection, and other benefits that can be very beneficial when traveling.
If you’re traveling with a companion and both of you earn rewards using your credit card. Be aware that you cannot divide the cost with the same card and make sure to track your rewards in a separate manner.
Overall, the key to maximizing your travel rewards is to understand the rewards program of your credit card and make sure you’re using this program in the most efficient method possible. Through a combination of the methods I’ve described in this article, you’ll be able get rewards in a short time, use rewards for valuable travel experiences and take advantage of a broad variety of travel benefits.